More than 80 Santa Barbara law enforcement officers went above and beyond the call of duty last Wednesday when they helped run the Flame of Hope down the coast on its way to the Special Olympics Summer Games opening ceremony in Long Beach.
Lt. Butch Arnoldi with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department organized the run’s South County leg. He’s helped coordinate the event for 30 years. Runners also came from the Santa Barbara Police Department, District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department, UCSB Police, California Highway Patrol, and California State Parks.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run movement has become the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics, said organizers. It raised nearly $1.4 million last year. In Santa Barbara, officers raise money by volunteering at local sports competitions and participating in Tip-A-Cop and Polar Plunge events.
This year’s Torch Run featured hundreds of officers carrying the Flame more than 1,500 miles through 200 Southern California communities.
Thirty-five Santa Barbara Special Olympics athletes are competing in the Summer Games in the sports of basketball, bocce, golf, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field.